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Six arrests in anti-Semitic raids

FIVE men and a teenager have been charged in connection with anti-Semitic comments on Facebook that allegedly caused fear and alarm in Scotland's largest Jewish community.

More than 50 police officers took part in raids on a number of addresses in Glasgow and East Renfrewshire after complaints about the social media page "Welcome to Israel, only kidding you're in Giffnock".

The page had more than 1000 followers at the time police took it off the web at the end of last year. An investigation was launched after complaints from those living in the area.

In its latest clampdown on internet hate crime, Strathclyde Police said those facing prosecution were aged between 18 and 21, with a 15-year-old boy also among those charged with breach of the peace with religious and racial aggravations.

A 24-year-old man was detained and later released without charge, pending further inquiry.

Rabbi Moshe Rubin, of Giffnock and Newlands Hebrew Congregation, said: "I think in the days of social networking anything can happen but the fact the community in Giffnock was targeted was quite a shock."

Earlier reports claimed the profile picture of the page featured the late Rev Ernest Levy, a Holocaust survivor who was considered the leader of the Jewish community in Scotland. Some messages contained overt racism and swearing.

Chief Inspector Alan Murray, Area Commander for East Renfrewshire, said: "This was a very complex and protracted enquiry. I hope it clearly demonstrates that Strathclyde Police will not tolerate hate crimes."

Paul Donnachie, a St Andrews University student who racially abused a Jewish classmate, was last month sentenced to 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay £300 after being found guilty of a racially aggravated breach of the peace.

And in March, David Craig, 25, was jailed for 14 months after posting pictures on Facebook of Celtic manager Neil Lennon covered in bullet wounds.

In 2010, the Scottish Government introduced laws to specifically curb religious and racial abuse on social media platforms.

Kenny Donnelly, procurator-fiscal at Paisley, who worked on the Giffnock Facebook case, said: "There is no place in modern Scotland for such behaviour and we will do all in our power to ensure that offenders are brought to justice."

The Community Security Trust, which works to protect the Jewish Community, said: "We welcome the arrests of suspects regarding alleged anti-Semitic statements. Glaswegian Jews should be reassured local police take anti-Semitism seriously.

"The spread of all types of hatred on social networking sites and similar media is a growing problem. So, it is hoped this innovative investigation by Giffnock and Strathclyde Police, supported by the procurator-fiscal, will provide a helpful precedent for all of society."

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